To the Editor:
When I was younger, I used to think like Ms. Jiang (who wrote “Should English be the only language in the United States?” in issue 37), being offended by the policy of only speaking English in the workplace.
Then I matured and realized that to be effective in our service to others, we have to speak one common language, in order for all to communicate. First of all, it is our right to speak the language that we want to speak, but it is our responsibility to make our clients or patients our priority.
Patients are frustrated and [can be] demanding because of their situations. Something may be wrong with them physically/emotionally/mentally, and they are in a confusing and confining environment. Most of the patients [become] paranoid and irritated when they do not understand the care they are getting.
I speak Tagalog, and there are many Filipinos in my workplace. I try to avoid speaking my language in front of my patients as [a sign of] respect to them.
My advice to Ms. Jiang and to others who are bothered by this situation is to be objective and direct their positive energy into taking care of the patient. Be proud of speaking your language, but know when, where, what, and to whom.
The United States is also conforming in some ways. Some government forms are translated into Chinese, Russian, Vietnamese, Arabic, among others.
Freedom is when you know that you got through by effectively communicating with others.
— Raquel Neslund, Lynnwood